Jeremy O’Day has been patiently waiting to assume the permanent general manager role in Saskatchewan. And now his time has come.
Former Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman hired O’Day as football operations coordinator after the offensive lineman retired from a 14-year playing career, the final 12 of which were spent in Regina.
Taman tutored O’Day, teaching the Buffalo native the ins and outs of football personnel management. In turn, O’Day helped Taman build the Riders Grey Cup championship team that won on home soil in 2013, which will never be forgotten in Riders history.
Throughout his career, O’Day has been responsible for various tasks in the front office: scouting, contract negotiations, planning free agent camps, mini-camps, training camps and day-to-day needs such as roster management and salary cap details. The 44-year-old has experience in all facets required to be a general manager, including holding the interim role.
When Taman was let go in August 2015 following a 0-9 start to the Riders season, O’Day was asked by president Craig Reynolds to assume GM duties. Reynolds ultimately chose Chris Jones over O’Day for the permanent role, but that had more to do with the abilities of Jones as a coach. One of the requirements Jones had to agree on when accepting the job was keeping O’Day on as assistant general manager.
Reynolds and O’Day have a strong relationship built over many years a key element in why the Riders president wanted him to stay with the club. Based on Jones’ history, Reynolds knew his franchise needed a succession plan in place and with O’Day in place, he had just that.
Part of the reason former assistant general manager John Murphy decided to leave Saskatchewan was the realization O’Day would be the general manager if Jones left and that he had no possibility of earning the top job.
O’Day is a perfect fit from a PR perspective: a former player who works hard, treats people with respect and lives in Regina year round. In many ways, O’Day is the antithesis of Jones.
But Jones had a vast scouting network across North America – when he wasn’t on the road surveying talent on his own. That’s a large reason why Jones was able to take the Riders to the playoffs two straight seasons and host a playoff game last year for the first time at new Mosaic stadium. The success led to an NFL job.
Hiring Paul Jones, one of Chris Jones’ last moves before decamping for Cleveland, might be a blessing for O’Day. His connections throughout the U.S. should help O’Day find the offensive talent needed to boost the Riders anemic attack.
O’Day could go out and hire an offensive-minded head coach to aid in improving the offence. Finding a franchise quarterback – something Jones was unable to do – would bode well for O’Day’s longevity in the position and job security. Interestingly, O’Day shares an alma mater with pending free agent quarterback Trevor Harris, Edinboro University.
Ultimately, O’Day will be judged on wins and losses but he certainly has the experience and temperament to be success in Riderville. If nothing else, he knows exactly what he’s getting himself into by taking the top football job in a football-mad province.